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The Top 100 Reasons to Come to DRSWCVI!

Suggested by Bob Chism  ♦  Originally built in 1929 and restored in 1981, this midtown St. Louis classic structure has been home to some of the greatest entertainers of their time. Its interior, created by some of the finest artisians and craftsmen of their day is quite a spectacle. It boasts a 2,000 pound chandelier surrounded by art glass, brass and paintings covering the walls and ceiling, not to mention 7,300 yards of elephant carpet (really)! It's open 12 months a year, and continues to feature an impressive array of entertainers and shows. Most recent show: "Chicago". Note from MarkO: The Fabulous Fox Theatre can also be viewed in its less than fabulous stage (pre-restoration) in the Kurt Russell flick "Escape from New York" (which was filmed on the streets of St. Louis - go figure).

Suggested by Mike Biondo  ♦  Now this reason I may be of limited interest to some, but for those of us who... how shall I put this... who enjoy gargantuan gastronomical, gourmet offerings, I offer to you what has to be one of the top places in the entire country for - are you ready? - buffets!!! :-) Yes folks, come to the buffet capital of the known world, the haven of the "Give me quantity, not quality" set, the place where you can feel at home amongst fellow gluttons. Yes folks, St. Louis... Buffet Central!!! We have every conceivable cuisine (?) that you could ever want stuff yourself with. We have Oriental, not just your run-of-mill Chinese, we also have Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese buffets. We have Italian buffets. We have pizza buffets. We have BBQ buffets. We have Creole buffets. We have Mexican buffets. We also have buffets that cater to little, old ladies with blue hair, in which the management has perfected a top-secret process of extracting every last bit of flavor for an item of food. In other words, you name it, we've got a buffet that serves it!!! We even have a beer buffet!!! :-) And if the above isn't enough, given the location for DRSWC6, DRS World Conference 6 itself will be a weekend long buffet!!! Yes folks, you won't leave St. Louis hungry or thirsty, that's for sure!!! The new DRSWC6 motto: "Come to St. Louis, and gain a few pounds"...

Suggested by MarkO  ♦  Blueberry Hill is more than just a tavern and restaurant. It is a St. Louis landmark. Located in the University Loop (one of the most enjoyable places to spend an afternoon or evening), it fits right in amongst the sidewalk cafes, eclectic shops, wine bars, and an old time movie theatre. The proprietor, Joe Edwards, is a regular philanthropist, doing much to make the neighborhood. He is easily recognizable walking through the bar since his picture adorns the wall in several places keeping company with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, and Chuck Berry (all of which who have played at Blueberry Hill). Blueberry Hill has a wide enough selection of beers (on tap and in bottles) to suit any beer lover's taste (as well as a couple of hard ciders to choose from for those who prefer). The food is also sumptious - their hamburger once again won the title of Best Hamburger in St. Louis (they are also current title holder of Best Restaurant Bar, Best Decor, Best Bar/Nightclub, Best Beer Selection, Best Bartenders). There are also a handful of tasty vegetarian selections - something not real common in most taverns. You can also relive your childhood as you peruse the display cases filled with memorabilia from your youth (if you happened to be a youth in the 50's, 60's). See Howdy Doody, see old lunch boxes, see old comic books - it's a regular museum filled with stuff that we all had to have as kids. There used to be an Archie lunch box, but Joe Edwards turned it over to the publishers of Archie in return for having Archie and his pals visiting Blueberry Hill and meeting the owner in an issue of Archie Comics (which is on display there). The Juke Box there is one of those new techno CD ones which has over 2000 selections, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find something you would like to hear. Old style jukeboxes sit atop large cabinets with their colourful tube lights giving the place a warm glow, as they keep company with large paper mache animals (elephant, walrus, etc) adorned in Christmas lights. The restroom walls are filled with witty (and some not so witty) graffiti. The best of these ended up on T-shirts (that can be purchased along with other memorabilia). If you have something witty to say, feel free to add it to the restroom wall. Out front of Blueberry Hill is a display window that always reflects the current season. Right now it is decorated for St. Patrick's Day. On St. Patrick's day night, the window will come to life as the facade is filled with actors who will put on a delightful (and usually somewhat tasteless) show. These shows usually last around 20 minutes and run every hour on the hour. My favourite of these they put on a couple of years ago on Halloween - it was titled "Rosemary's Baby Shower" - for anyone who has ever seen "Rosemary's Baby"... well, you can imagine :-) A couple of months ago, the window was set up as Santa's workshop - that was a bit more light hearted. As a child, I use to walk past Blueberry Hill and press my nose up against the smoked glass so that I could see the folks inside playing pinball and throwing darts, and I could tell that this was a special, wonderful place - and I vowed that on my 21twenty-first birthday that I would go to Blueberry Hill. And I did. And it didn't let me down.

Suggested by Dean Mueller  ♦  The James S. McDonnell Prologue Room in St. Louis tells this panoramic story of nearly eight decades of aviation progress, from biplanes to space travel. Scale models, dioramas, paintings and photographs depict such important events as the first flight around the world in 1924, the first take-off of a jet fighter from a U.S. Navy carrier in 1946, the first aircraft to land at the South Pole in 1956, and the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Earth in 1962. During the school year, an educational program on "The Mystery of Flight" is available by reservation to students. During the summer, the exhibit is open for public tours. Visitors can view large-scale models (1/7-scale) of the F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet and AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Wind-tunnel size (1/4-scale) models include commercial jetliners, military transport aircraft and Air Force One. Displays of rockets and missiles include a full-scale model of a Harpoon radar-guided missile. At the exhibit's center are full-size engineering mockups of the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft that carried America’s first astronauts into space. The James S. McDonnell Prologue Room is named in tribute to "Mr. Mac" who founded the St. Louis-based McDonnell Aircraft Co. in 1939. Often quoting Shakespeare's "What's past is prologue," Mr. Mac believed we should honor and learn from our past but not live in it. Part of the McDonnell Aircraft and Missile Systems unit of Boeing, the exhibit is located on the lobby level of the building 100, adjacent to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. And after you check out the Prologue Room, go south a bit on McDonnell Boulevard/Brown Road and stop in at the 94th Aero Squadron. It's a restaurant/bar right along the runways of Lambert International Airport. Grab a drink and sit out on the patio and watch the constant activity of this midwestern hub in action. :-)

Suggested by Tracey G.  ♦  The Lemp Mansion and other good ghost stories. ;-) John Adam Lemp came to the United States from Germany in 1838. He opened a small grocery store in St. Louis, and prospered by selling something no one else did... lager beer. He'd learned how to brew the beer from his father back in Eschwege, and the natural cave system under St. Louis provided the perfect cool temperature for aging beer. By 1940 he closed his store and built a small brewery. He died a millionaire, thanks to the success of his lager beer. William J. Lemp took over the brewery after his father's death, expanding the brewery to eventually cover ten city blocks. By 1870 the Lemp brewery was the largest in St. Louis, and the Lemp family epitomized wealth and power. The mansion was built in the 1860s, and subsequently purchased by William J. to serve as both family residence and an auxilliary brewery office. Though grand when built, the Lemps turned the 33-room house into a Victorian showplace. Things were going well for the family, with the ever-increasing sales of its lager (you might be familiar with the Falstaff name), and the marriage of William's daughter Hilda to Gustav Pabst of the noted Milwaukee brewing family in 1897. The good times, unfortunately, wouldn't last, and the ultimate demise of the Lemp empire is still one of the great mysteries of St. Louis businesses. One might say the downward spiral started in 1901, with the death of Frederick Lemp, heir-apparent to the brewery presidency, who died under "mysterious circumstances" at age 28. Three years later, William J. shot himself in the head in a bedroom in the mansion, apparently still grieving the loss of his son. William J. Lemp, Jr., succeeded his father as president. Tragedies continued. The brewery's fortunes began to decline, until Prohibition closed the plant permanently in 1919. William Jr.'s sister Elsa, considered the weathiest heiress in St. Louis, committed suicide in 1920. Then in 1922, the magnificent Lemp brewery, once valued at $7 million, was sold at auction to the International Shoe Co. for a mere $588,500. After presiding over the sale, William Jr. shot himself in the same bedroom where his father had died 18 years earlier. His son, William III, was only 42 when he died of a heart attack in 1943. William Jr.'s brother Charles continued to reside at the residence, though he lived a bitter, reclusive existence until he, too, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the basement. He was discovered by his brother, Edwin, who lived to be 90 before dying of natural causes. Today, the mansion is once again a magnificent showplace. It has been restored by the Pointer family, who purchased it in 1975, and serves as a restaurant, dinner theatre, and 4-room bed-and-breakfast. It is also considered to be one of the nine most-haunted houses in America (according to a 1980 Life Magazine article). While there's not a lot of paranormal activity reported, some restaurant employees and other workers have reported a feeling of being watched by a hostile presence, or seeing an elderly gentlemen seated at one of the tables, waiting for service before or after regular hours, only to vanish upon a second glance. While there for dinner on Friday, March 13... under a full moon... with PKrash, we were invited to wander about the house after dessert, to explore. The second level seemed innocent enough, what with the four beautifully-furnished bed-and-breakfast suites. But a narrow staircase led us up to the third floor, where the darkened doorways of four disused rooms were. The one lightbulb hanging overhead afforded some illumination, except... as we neared the top of the stairs, it would dim slightly, or flicker... until we stopped climbing. Then it would remain steadily lit. Start toward the top, and it would flicker again. We paused at the head of the stairs, and tried to peer into the dark, musty rooms with old, shadowy furniture... and who knows what else... and had had quite enough of that after about ten seconds, at which time we hastily descended the stairs. The Lemp Mansion isn't the only haunted house in St. Louis. There have been several documented events of the paranormal, including the channeling of Patience Worth by two St. Louis women, beginning in 1913. Personal accounts claim many other buildings in and around St. Louis to be haunted, including a row of apartment buildings across from St. Mary's hospital, near Forest Park, that once housed psychiatric patients. If you are looking for a place to stay for the conference and a hotel seems too tame, give the Lemp Mansion a call and see if one of the rooms are available. It certainly would be a memorable experience. ;-)

Suggested by Tracey G.  ♦  The Exorcist - a best-selling book in 1971, and box office horror hit in 1973. Most everyone knows the story of the girl, the demon and the priest. But what they might not know is that William Peter Blatty based his novel on a true story that happened in St. Louis in 1949. The details have been changed to protect those involved. In truth, it was a 14-year-old boy from Mount Rainier, Maryland, who was thought to be possessed by demonic spirits. During the episodes of possession, his body would convulse, distorting and transforming, heels touching the back of his head, his body in a loop... the bed would shake violently, and obscene words or welts would appear on his skin. All this was reported by priests, who were witnesses. During one such episode, the words "Go" and "St. Louis" appeared on the boy's stomach. His parents, having relatives in St. Louis, took this as a sign and brought the boy to Missouri from Maryland. Reverend William S. Bowdern was the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church at St. Louis University in 1949. It was Father Bowdern who would ultimately lead a team of Jesuit priests in the exorcism of the boy. But up until his death in 1983, Bowdern never publicly acknowledged he was the exorcist, though he believed the case involved demonic possession, he told friends. For years, church officials tried to keep a lid on the story, but rumors leaked out. The archbishop of St. Louis who approved the exorcism, Cardinal Joseph Ritter, was never comfortable with the idea from the beginning (nor with the notion of demonic possession in general). The site of the exorcism no longer exists, though many people mistakenly believe that a small room atop a spooky stairwell in Verhagen Hall was where it all took place. The actual exorcism was performed in an old 19th-century, psychiatric wing of the old Alexian Brothers Hospital, in a 4th-floor room that was sealed afterword. Before the building was demolished in 1978, a diary was found in the room, alledgedly kept by the late Reverend Raymond J. Bishop for Bowdern. That diary became the starting point for a book published in 1993 called, "Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism" by Thomas B. Allen. After the St. Louis exorcism, the boy was said to be "cured." (Before coming to St. Louis, an exorcism was attempted at Georgetown University Hospital by a Mount Rainier parish priest. It didn't work.) His name has become known, but he has shunned publicity and lives a happy, rewarding life in Omaha, and he is rumored to have named his first child Michael, after the archangel. In 1964, the vacant house where he'd onced lived, and which the neighbors had believed haunted since the possession incidents, was burned to the ground by the Mount Rainier Volunteer Fire Department.

Suggested by Toni Braun  ♦  Daniel Boone's home located in Defiance, Missouri about 20 miles from St. Charles was the last home owned by the legendary outdoorsman. Daniel came to this part of the country at the request of the Spanish, who owned the territory at the time. They hoped he would bring other Americans to settle, open trade and help stabilize the area and had made him a magistrate for the district. By 1799, when Daniel came to Missouri, he was already 65 and had seen a number of careers and adventures. He had led some of the first settlers thru the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky, but left there when he said it was getting too crowded - he could see the smoke from his neighbor's chimney several miles away. When Daniel and his significant other Rebecca came to Missouri, they helped their son build the three story house out of the native limestone found on the property. Owing to prior Indian troubles (one son was tortured to death, a daughter had been kidnapped) he built gun ports into the 30 inch thick front walls. However, he soon learned that the Osage were no threat. The house has a number of interesting details and artifacts. The fireplaces, which are in most of the rooms, were handcarved by Daniel. He also made a settee out of applewood and a German made sideboard (with secret compartments) was uniquely constructed so that the drawers are interchangeable and still fit perfectly when turned upside down. There is also a replica of his cherry coffin that he kept under his bed because he knew he would need it some day. There are many other period antiques. Outside the house, a now fallen elm tree (called the Judgment Tree) was where he held court and issued orders. A number of other buildings exist - a woodcrafters shop, a chapel and a wealthy merchants house. Besides being an expert marksman, Indian fighter, wilderness guide, carpenter and judge, he also served as the doctor in the area. Daniel and Rebecca were buried a few miles from the house, but officials from Kentucky came to exhume the bodies for reburial in Frankfort. Legend in the area has it that the local residents pointed out the wrong graves, so that they wouldn't take the Boones back to Kentucky. I'd like to share two of my favorite historical "facts" about Daniel Boone. No matter how much land or wealth he accumulated he refused to own slaves. As a Quaker, he hired servants, but would not abide slavery. The second story has to do with another facet of his character. After being away on one of his expeditions for a year, he came home to find his wife with a newborn infant. Loving and respecting his Rebecca, but being a bit perplexed, he asked who was the father. She explained that he had been gone so long and his brother had helped with the house - Daniel replied that the child was blood relation and never again spoke of the matter. If you get the idea that I'm a fan of Daniel Boone, you're right. I could probably write a book in tribute to Daniel and Rebecca (who practically raised eight kids by herself), but Dave just yelled at me that I'm writing too much. So, I'll close with an invitation to visit the home while you're in town. If interested in history, you'll love it.

Suggested by Jeff Lorentz  ♦  Another one of my favorite growing-up memories here in St. Louis were the yearly summer trips out to Six Flags. Located at the outermost reaches of St. Louis County, about 45 minutes southwest of downtown St. Louis out I-44, Six Flags is one of eight such theme parks throughout the United States. With more than 100 rides, shows, and games, the park has lots of attractions for all ages. From live shows to arcade games to roller coasters (I recommend the Batman and Screamin' Eagle) to carnival games, Six Flags can easily provide you with a whole day's activities - but be sure not to let that intrude upon your DRSWCVI plans, of course. :-) Last season a new ride, Mr. Freeze, was expected to open in St. Louis and at the Arlington, Texas park, but due to technical problems that developed during testing down in Texas, it never did. Mr. Freeze is a linear induction coaster that cost between $7 and $10 million which can reach speeds up to 70 mph in just 4 seconds. At last notice, the Mr. Freeze ride was expected to open this coming season... we'll see about that. ;-)

Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  The Sunday morning track events will be held at Washington University's track (about 1 mile from the hotel), which was also the site of the 1904 Olympic Track & Field events. Let's just hope that history does not repeat itself. The 1904 Olympics (third of modern times and first in the U.S.) were originally scheduled to be held in Chicago. In somewhat of a power play, a St. Louis contingent, which was already hosting the World's Fair, said that they were going to hold a similar sporting event. This sounds suspiciously like some stunt the Stilldeads would also pull. The then-Olympic Committee caved to the pressure and allowed St. Louis to be the host. This was the first of a series of bizarre happenings. Owing to lack of modes of travel for this time period and just the amount of time it took to get somewhere, there were only 13 countries entered. The U.S. dominated in number of athletes (533 of the 625) and the medal count showed it - winning 238 out of 282 medals. (Sources of these numbers are contradictory, but one gets the idea). I don't know about the rest of the events, but I did check the ones which we will be running (and the bizarreness continues). The 100 seemed to be ok. Archie Hahn won in 11 flat. By the way, women were not allowed to run. The 200 was also won by Archie (in a time of 21.6). He was helped by the fact that the three other finalists all false-started and in those days the penalty was a 2 yard handicap. The 400 was even stranger. Harry Hillman won in 49.2. There was only one race - all 13 competitors ran at the same time with no lane restrictions. The 800 and 1500 came off without a hitch. James Lightbody won both in 1:56 and 4:05, respectively. While we are not going to run the 'thon, it may have been the most twisted event of them all. The 25 mile course was mostly dirt roads and was run in the afternoon 90 degree heat. There was one water stop - a well, 12 miles out on the course. As an aside, St. Louis hosts two marathons a year. The one in February, until a couple years ago, followed this same course. Some believe that the current race director must be an ancestor of whoever orchestrated the 1904 race. Anyway, breathing in dust, the heat, lack of water took its toll - only 14 of 32 starters finished. The first guy (Fred Lorz) back into the stadium looked rather refreshed. About the time he was to get his award, the second guy (Tom Hicks) entered the stadium, looking like he had hit the wall one too many times. Fred then admitted that he had ridden in an automobile for 11 miles and was disqualified... did he pull a or did Rosie pull a Lorz? By today's standards, Hicks would have also been disqualified as his handlers gave him strychnine and brandy out on the course after he wanted to quit. (However, if one uses Biondo standards, alcohol is not a banned substance while running). And, we all might relate to the guy that was chased off course for one mile by two dogs. Or the guy that tossed cookies from eating green apples from some orchard to quench his thirst. It's too bad that we won't be running the 'thon as one of the events... some of us might have a chance of bettering at least one of the times back then - the winning time was 3:28:35. The wrought iron gated entrance that they ran thru is still there and luckily, the track has been syntheticized.

Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  A St. Louis institution, on Old Route 66, Ted Drewes has been serving frozen custard since 1929. Oh, there are other stands... Mr Wizard, Fritz's, Spanky's to name a few, but none have the allure of Ted's. When crowds are 10-15 deep in front of 10 serving windows at 11 pm on a hot summer night, something must be right. There is only one flavor - vanilla. But, the toppings are everything you can imagine. I think the favorite is chocolate, chocolate chip concrete (a very thick shake). Ask them to serve it to you upside down when they pass it thru the window. (Note: pictured are, left to right, Joe Kupferer, Deb Cullison, and Lisa Beame in line at Ted Drewes during one of the DRSWCII outings.)

Reasons 100-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 | 39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1